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Report Regarding Raising Community Services District Zone "A" Fees

Fiscal Year 1994-95

Prepared by

L. Lawrence Baird, Chairman

Parks and Recreation Committee

The Subject

City of Moreno Valley Parks and Recreation staff along with the city manager have proposed to increase zone "A" fees. City staff contends that this increase is needed and have committed to provide additional playing fields with the added funds.

Moreno Valley Parks and Recreation Committee has recommended no increase. Staff has provided lengthy reports supporting their increase and have gone so far as to release information to the press supporting their contentions.

Note that all staff's efforts are subsidized by the taxpayers while the efforts of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee are not. Staff will gain around $240,000 added to their operating budget should council rule in their favor, while Parks and Recreation Committee Members will only loose about $5. each, assuming that each member is a property owner.

The Background

When the city was incorporated in 1984 the voters approved Resolution 84-285 establishing "Zone A -Park and Recreation" At that time the parcel fee was $20. In fiscal year 91-92 the fee had more than doubled to $50. For the fiscal year 91-92 park staff proposed one large increase with the intent that further increases would not be necessary over the next few years. The following year staff came back with a proposal for an additional increase of $2.50 bringing the current fees to $87.50. In fiscal year 1993-1994 staff again asked for an increase, Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee recommended a reduction, committee member Dominic Rossi presented a report showing that the same level of service could be achieved with the decrease. Council approved no increase, perhaps for the first time in the history of the city.
Added funds with no increase

Because the redevelopment loan will be repaid in the subject fiscal year several hundred thousand dollars will now be available for expanded parks and recreation services. Community Development Block Grant funds have also been earmarked for parks and recreation.

How the money is presently being spent

Council stipend
The entire council stipend of $12,000. Per year is being funded from only one of the many zones being administered by the city council acting as the Community Services District Board. That zone is zone "A", the parks and recreation zone. There is no indication that these funds have been taken from any other zone for this purpose during the entire ten years that the city has been incorporated. It would be fair and reasonable to shift this burden to the other zones for ten years each.

Administration

Ten per cent is transferred to the general fund for "administration". This amount comes to over half a million dollars each year. Although this may be technically legal it is doubtful that when the citizens of Moreno Valley voted to enact zone "A" that they wanted only 90% to go to parks and recreation.

More administration

The parks and recreation department funds three executive positions at a cost of over $200,000 per year. In addition to that each executive position has a secretary. Only a few years ago parks had only one executive position. While other departments have been cut due to declining revenues the parks and recreation department has grown.

Even more administrative costs

The main parks and recreation office at city hall encompasses 4,000 square feet of high priced space. Only a few years ago that space totalled 1,500 square feet. This again demonstrates a massive expansion as other departments are supposedly trying to cut back expenses.

In addition to the main parks and recreation office there are additional offices at the community service building, city yard and at one park.

Non-park and recreation expenses

The subject of maintaining medians and subsidizing public works tree trimming has already been addressed with recommendations from the committee to fund these items from the general fund and use the money designated for parks and recreation for parks and recreation. Other non-park items have yet to be addressed. Real estate venture

The parks and recreation department uses zone "A" funds to lease the community services center and in turn rents portions of it to private organizations. This is in direct competition with the private businesses that support the city with their taxes and fees.

Narcotics Counseling and other social programs

While most of these programs are worthwhile, funding them from parks and recreation funds is questionable. The parks and recreation committee, in the past year, has had many members of the public come to the committee meetings and share their concerns. All have asked for more parks and recreation items. Not one member of the public has asked us for social welfare or social engineering programs.

Effects of Increased Fee

By increasing fees property in Moreno Valley becomes less desirable. Property values decrease hence decreasing the tax base. Each week in the Valley Times page after page of foreclosures are listed. Raising parcel fees only adds to the financial burden that continues to destroy Moreno Valley.

Conclusions

1. We will already have more money in the parks and recreation budget since incorporation without an increase in fees.

2. Money is being used for non parks and recreation purposes. If that practice were discontinued even more money would be available for the playing fields that the citizens want.

3. Parks and recreation department is over managed and over administrated. (Read: too many chiefs and not enough Indians). Total personnel, administrative and office cost should be no more than twenty per cent of the total budget. That would leave 80% for building new parks.

4. A more than adequate amount of funds are available, they just need to be spent for the benefit of the people of the city of Moreno Valley and not an ever expanding bureaucracy.

5. We have the choice of serving the citizens of Moreno Valley by spending parks and recreation funds for the purpose the voters intended when our zone "A" was created, (parks and recreation, not public works projects nor social welfare programs nor real estate ventures) and eliminating zone fee increases. Or we may choose to force more homes into foreclosure by increasing zone fees thus diminishing the source of revenue to the general fund from property taxes.

6. Zone "A" fees have more than quadrupled since the city incorporated. It's time to give the taxpayers a break and make the bureaucrats live within their budget.


Zone A Park Taxes

By Lawrence in the 1990s

Impact On Moreno Valley Economy
For every dollar assessed in parcel fees approximately $50,000.00 is taken out of Moreno Valley's economy. Note that in the early years when park parcel fees were only $25. per year Moreno Valley's economy was booming. People were moving to Moreno Valley not only because of the low cost housing but because taxes were under control. By 1990 park fees had doubled to $50.00 per parcel per year and at that same time foreclosures went up and home sales went down. In 1991 park fees were raised to $85.00 a year with the promise that with this one large increase, we would not have to raise fees every year. The following year another $2.50 was added and our present fee is an exorbitant $87.50 per year. Our fees had more than tripled in only seven years.
The increase in park fees has not been the only factor in the major property value losses in Moreno Valley, but it is a contributing factor.

Decrease In Need
The $350,000.00 per year burden on the zone A budget for the Senior Center loan obligation has ended. Other sources were found for a large portion of the financing of Adrienne Mitchell Park and the rehabilitation of Sunnymead Park plus the of street tree trimming and median maintenance havebeen removed from the park budget. Funds available for park maintenance and improvement will be greater during the 95-96 fiscal year than ever before without an increase. The increase in revenue from the savings from the Senior Center alone amounts to approximately $8.75 per parcel per year.

Give The People A Break And Stimulate The Economy
If the park parcel fee were reduced by $5.00 per year, $200,000.00 would be returned to the Moreno Valley economy and the available funds for park operation would be increased by $150,000.00 per year.

Conclusion
With the utility tax and numerous zone fees Moreno Valley is one of the highest taxed cities in Riverside County. The local newspaper lists over five pages of foreclosures each week. Houses throughout the city are abandoned because the owners could not meet their expenses. We have a choice to either add that straw that breaks the back of more home owners by increasing zone A fees or we can choose to lighten the load and perhaps save a few home owners from bankruptcy and make Moreno Valley a more desirable place in which to live.

You Can Help
As a member of the parks and recreation committee you can vote to recommend to the city council to reduce our fees. As a citizen you can call or write your city council. Post Office Box 88005, Moreno Valley 92552-0805, Phone 243-3008. Make your voice heard, it will make a difference.